Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, who oversaw the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, condemned President Obama for continuing to golf last week during his two-week vacation on Martha’s Vineyard while historic floods were devastating parts of Louisiana.
Brown said Obama did not need to immediately travel to Baton Rouge, but that he should have altered his vacation schedule to acknowledge the progressing natural disaster.
Recent Stories in Issues
"The problem is the optics," Brown told Fox Business on Monday, according to ABC News.
"It doesn’t mean jump on Air Force One and go to every disaster. It means that you need to speak to the American people," he continued. "You sometimes need to get off the golf course when bad things are happening so you don’t have the two [TV] windows of somebody golfing while people are being rescued from rooftops."
Brown was infamously praised by then-President George W. Bush for "doing a heck of a job" during a chaotic Katrina response that left thousands of survivors without food and shelter.
The flooding in Louisiana last week killed at least 13 people and has damaged roughly 60,000 homes. More than 100,000 people had registered for federal assistance by Monday morning, according to the Louisiana governor’s office.
The Red Cross said the flooding was the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in 2012.
Obama began his Massachusetts vacation Aug. 6, one week before the flooding struck southern Louisiana. The president upgraded the emergency declaration for Louisiana to a major disaster declaration, authorizing federal authorities to respond with aid.
Obama took one brief break from vacation to attend a Hillary Clinton fundraiser last week. He is scheduled to visit the Baton Rouge area Tuesday.
The White House last week ensured the president had "received updates" on the flooding in Louisiana. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson traveled to the region to meet with local officials Thursday.